Monday, January 28, 2013

Ky. parents strongly favor increasing school dropout age, a step that could make future high-school students healthier

A statewide poll has found that Kentucky parents overwhelmingly favor increasing the state’s school dropout age, and doing so might help future high-school students' health, according to the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which sponsored the poll.   

After being told the legislature may raise the dropout age to 18 from 16, 85 percent of Kentucky parents said they favor the move, and 77 percent of parents said they strongly favored it.

Besides their homes, school is where children spend most of their time, and the overall health and well-being of students affect their ability to learn.  Healthy kids learn better and students’ academic achievement in turn affects their ability to be healthy and stay well in the future.

“People may not realize that education is a health issue, but research tells us that completing high school is directly related to our health status in later life,” said Dr. Susan Zepeda, President and CEO of the foundation. “Increasing the dropout age is one strategy aimed at improving the graduation rate in the state. We hope this polling data will encourage a deeper conversation among parents, education experts and policy makers to explore this and other strategies to help our children succeed at school and lead a more healthy life.”

The dropout-age question was part of the Kentucky Parent Survey, which provided a snapshot of parental views on a number of issues involving health care, school and home life. It surveyed parents, step-parents, grandparents, foster parents or other legal guardians of children in Kentucky.

The poll was conducted in July and August 2012 by the Center for Survey Research at the University of Virginia.  More than 1,000 parents and guardians of children under 18 from throughout the state were interviewed by telephone, including landlines and cell phones.  The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. 

Kentucky Health News is an independent service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

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